Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Emerging Market

As unemployment takes center stage as the nation's most pressing issue, I feel grateful that I always have something to fall back on in times of trouble. And no, I don't mean blogging for Blicky.

My back-up career is stand-up comedy for the 6 and under set. I know what you're thinking, gentle reader. Hey, who would pay you money to do something that easy? Isn't that like offering family planning for pandas, running anger management classes for Tibetan monks, or teaching tail-wagging and steak eating to dogs? Comedy for kids? All you have to do is say the word "poop" and call it a day. I understand your thinking, and I realize that I will need to demonstrate my gift in order to give people an understanding of the rigors and complexity involved.

For a limited time, I will share these free tricks that are guaranteed to kill -- I mean absolutely slay the members of the wrinkle-free-midget persuasion.

#1 One joke that never fails at drop-off even though they might hear it 180 days out of the school year: "Now remember, kids, DON'T HAVE FUN." But beware -- if you can't do a decent deadpan, you're out of your league and should stop here. At the very least, that line guarantees a sea of gleeful smiles and sing-song choruses of, "We're having fuuunnnn!"

#2 Persons of the curly-haired-dimpled persuasion absolutely LOVE anarchy. We grownups get a little nervous when the center cannot hold and the falcon cannot hear the falconer and all of that, but for the 6 and unders? Bring it onnn, baby! Any humor that contains anarchy is guaranteed to kill. K-I-L-L kill. One caveat, don't try to make jokes about political libertarian theory or make references to famous anarchists. It falls dangerously flat. For example, I would strongly advise against the following: "Hey guys, ever hear the one about Lysander Spooner and his thoughts about acts of initiatory coercion against individuals and their property?" Unless you're prepared to resort to a pathetic and desperate display of gas passing humor coupled with dancing (and such moves are frowned upon in juvenile comedic circles), you're toast.

#3 Persons-of-limited-vintage are none the wiser when you "borrow" your material. I have this running joke going in the kindergarten this year about Justin Bieber and how it would be really funny if he were the tooth fairy. So of course I had to come up with a reasonably good quality falsetto song that he might sing if he came to your house to get your teeth, "Oh baby baby, just give me your wiggly tooth…" They have no idea that my falsetto bears an eerie resemblance to Jimmy Fallon's parody of Barry Gibb because they can't stay up late and watch SNL or see it on anyone's Facebook. For that matter, they really don't care if you have no idea what Justin Bieber even sounds like. btw They don't get tired of the same joke either, so the next day, Justin Bieber might be a baby carrot who's going to jump out of their lunchboxes, start wiggling his little orange hips and sing, "Never say never." (again sounding eerily like Barry Gibb).

#4 They delight in any suggestions that the grownups in their lives might have a secret identity, "Who said your mom is actually a ninja? I didn't say that! No she really goes to yoga just like she says she does and is definitely not involved in secret training or missions of any kind."

That should be enough to get you started. And now for your mandatory fun, a bit of the real thing for those of us of the more energy-challenged, anile, vintage persuasion:

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Gift of Time

I recently had great lesson passed along to me. I was late for a lunch date with my friend and instead of looking annoyed or impatient she seemed so serene. She's a Buddhist and I've long suspected them of being a little too happy, but I listened to her anyway. She said that time is a gift to be enjoyed and instead of being impatient, the way to look at it is to be thankful. If she was being ironic, she masked it pretty deftly as she said, "Thank you for the gift of time."

Lately, I think of time as a playful, flexible entity that changes its shape, texture and form as we change, and our relationship to time evolves. When you're a kid, time is either annoying and endless (lectures, Christmas Eve, and the last hour of school before summer break) or non-existent (amount of playtime between dinner and bed). There are moments in our lives when we don't even think about the passage of time. We are so absorbed in what we are doing, it vanishes and ceases to matter. Sometimes time can be irascible and petulant, playing tricks on you and taunting (when you have to stay up late for an exam). The busier we get, the more minuscule each moment seems. There are fewer and fewer of those 'annoying' and endless moments as we begin to work harder on the things that matter to us. But what if we look at those moments differently -- the bank line, traffic, the doctor's office, airport security -- the remaining ones that seem frustrating and long?

This was an epiphany to me because Blicky Kitty has a real problem with this. His wrath augments with every minute he is forced to wait. This poses a problem when we are out shopping, like we were just last week:

Blicky was getting a few supplies -- litter, salted cod, paper towels, caviar, batteries, plutonium -- and he got behind a family at the checkout. Immediately, I recognized the telltale eye-tick. I knew he was struggling to maintain his composure, and inwardly he was scrutinizing their every action and thinking. "How can you be so slow? How can anyone be that slow... and stupid. How long does it take to get your stupid credit card out. Why are you talking to the stupid checkout lady? Who cares how she's doing? You stupid, stupid nice lady...." Yes, outwardly Blick looks like your typical, sweet and cuddly bipedal cat, but he's not always nice about stuff.

The alarm bells ringing in his central nervous system were almost audible at that point. For Blick, it gets really extreme, so if you are a particularly gentle, gentle-reader, kindly avert your eyes and send the children away:

I'm sorry, I know.

I wish Blicky could just change his mindset. If you see me waiting in a line these days, I'm the one with the placid expression on my face (and quite possibly a homicidal feline in line behind me). How often do we just get to stand around and do nothing? For those blissful 5 minutes (usually less) there are no plates to clean up, kittens to cook for, work deadlines, and no obligations. All I have to do is just stand there and be. It is that precious moment of stasis between rushing to grab what I need, racking my brains to menu plan, and hauling 50+ pounds of groceries to and from the car. That, for me, is a gift.

Here is your mandatory fun:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Explaining the Birds

I know what you're thinking. We haven't seen Blicky Kitty for a long, long time. The reasons for that are subtle and varied:
a) My new career in door-to-door interpretive dance has suddenly and inexplicably taken off, leaving little time for Blicky reportage,
b) Blicky took off in his Hummer, went deep undercover for many, many months, and I had no idea of his whereabouts,
c) and the fact that his disappearance coincided with me getting a track pad instead of a mouse was pure coincidence.

The real reason for his disappearance is that Blicky is starting to rethink his former ways and is starting consider to the many problems facing the environment on a global scale. He used to cough up furballs every time I mentioned my concern about dwindling frog and honey bee populations. I tried explaining to him that bees are vital to food production and that some 52 of the world's 112 leading crops -- from apples and soybeans to cocoa and almonds -- rely on pollination. There are still many questions, but researchers have identified some probable causes of colony collapse disorder (CCD), including blood-feeding parasites, bee viruses, fungi, pesticide exposure and decreased plant diversity causing poor nutrition for honeybees. He seemed to get it, but I think his primary concern was how embarrassing it would be for future generations of parents if they had to sit down and only be able to "explain the birds" to their clowder of kittens. He felt it would lead to some strange mating behavior if young people everywhere thought they were literally supposed to act like birds rather than grasp it as a metaphor for the fecundity of nature.

Your mandatory fun here:

Well I guess I just can't discuss this with Blicky. Yes these problems that face us are depressing and scary. They seem insurmountable at times, but for me doing things like buying organic food (or growing it), keeping woods instead of a lawn, writing to my congressional delegation and finding out the little ways I can help makes me feel better.

Sylvia Plath 1932-1963

This is the easy time, there is nothing doing.
I have whirled the midwife's extractor,
I have my honey,
Six jars of it,
Six cat's eyes in the wine cellar,

Wintering in a dark without window
At the heart of the house
Next to the last tenants rancid jam
and the bottles of empty glitters ....
Sir So-and-So's gin.

This is the room I have never been in
This is the room I could never breathe in.
The black bunched in there like a bat,
No light
But the torch and its faint

Chinese yellow on appalling objects ....
Black asininity. Decay.
It is they who own me.
Neither cruel nor indifferent,

Only ignorant.
This is the time of hanging on for the bees...the bees
so slow I hardly know them,
Filing like soldiers
To the syrup tin

To make up the honey I've taken.
Tate and Lyle keeps them going,
The refined snow.
It is Tate and Lyle they live on, instead of flowers.
They take it. The cold sets in.

Now they ball in a mass,
Mind against all that white.
The smile of the snow is white.
It spreads itself out, a mile long body of Meissen,

Into which, on warm days,
They can only carry their dead.
The bees are all women,
Maids and the long royal lady.
They have got rid of the men,

The blunt, clumpsy stumblers, the boors.
Winter is for women ....
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanish walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold and too dumb to think.

Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year ?
What will they taste of, the Christmas roses ?
The bees are flying. They taste the spring.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528)
Adam and Eve, 1504


by George Bilgere

Someone's taken a bite
from my laptop's glowing apple,
the damaged fruit of our disobedience,
of which we must constantly be reminded.

There's the fatal crescent,
the dark smile
of Eve, who never dreamed of a laptop,
who, in fact, didn't even have clothes,
or anything else for that matter,

which was probably the nicest thing
about the Garden, I'm thinking,
as I sit here in the café
with my expensive computer,
afraid to get up even for a minute
in order to go to the bathroom
because someone might steal it

in this fallen world she invented
with a single bite
of an apple nobody, and I mean
was going to tell her not to eat.

Mandatory fun, gentle bloggy friends: